With increased focus on his team members and guest satisfaction, GM Sukamal Mondal aims to take Oriental Residence to more success.
by Percy Roxas.
He may look like the boy next door, and indeed he must be one. But behind that boyish mien is savvy millennial with authentic smarts, which makes Sukamal Mondal, the 39-year-old general manager (GM) of Oriental Residence Bangkok, the hotel GM to watch in the city today.
Originally from India, Sukamal was appointed GM of the 145-room Oriental Residence –one of the city’s most distinctive serviced apartments/hotel –in October 2014, after holding the same position successfully at both the Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok and Ekkamai Gardens Bangkok prior.
The guy who started his hospitality career as a waiter in Shanghai after hotel school in Sydney had come a long a way, indeed, climbing up the ranks and fast-tracking from his F&B background to high management in companies like Marriott where he has worked for 12 years, and with Thailand’s ONYX Hospitality Group, with which he has been for eight years already.
It was not original dream, to be a hotel GM, but Sukamal feels grateful and blessed that he was given the opportunity to be where he is now. Had fate decreed otherwise, he could have been a flight attendant, or perhaps working in a fashion, clothing and design company, which are more in line with his personal passion and style.
But though Sukamal’s priority these days veers away 360 degrees from those early dreams he said he could never be any happier: “If you are a hotelier, you dress well, you talk well, and you live well – it’s connected. So in a way my dreams are still alive,” he says.
A more pressing dream drives him these days though: to make Oriental Residence more successful than it currently is. Sukamal is largely credited for the increased guest satisfaction ratings that the property has been receiving of late, and even in its climbing up to the Top 6 today in TripAdvisor listings.
Business-wise, this is backed up by a 40 percent increase in room occupancy numbers last year, and doing well revenue-wise as well — with some 35 percent hike in long-staying guests. The property has also become a most sought-after venue for events and functions – a focus Sukamal is further concentrating on this year – so much so that Sukamal says they are going to open a new events room soon to keep up with the demand.
These developments reflect Sukamal’s top priorities as Oriental Residence GM: his team members and his guests.
ONYX honored him as the “best financial GM” in the group in 2015 but he prefers to give his team the credits. “They are amazing. I couldn’t have achieved anything without them,” he says. In particular, he praises his events team, which he describes as “very creative.” “Give them an idea and they will that idea into something extraordinary,” he adds.
“My team is my No. 1 priority,” he reiterates. “And that’s why I focus a lot on team member activities, not only working with them but also sharing with them and playing with them. I believe that if you make your team happy, they will transfer that happiness to the guests.”
By empowering his team and giving them due recognition and appreciation, to balance his hands-on management style, Sukamal made Oriental Residence a winning luxury property indeed. “If you have the basics covered, you can do no wrong,” he says simply.
Sukamal was also quick to mention that he took over from a gentleman (the previous GM) who was very experienced. “I inherited a fantastic property,” he says, “and many things are already in place when I got onboard; it’s not like I started everything here. My job was to get things together, and this again this was made easier by me having been surrounded by an awesome team.”
He is proud to be with ONYX, especially because being with the company allows him to pursue his personal devotion to CSR initiatives. “As a company, ONYX does a lot of CSR work and that works for me,” he says. “Having been brought up in India where sentiments and charity are important, CSR is a big thing for me, so I’m glad to be part of ONYX. CSR has always been a big thing for ONYX.”
How successful does Sukamal think he is at the moment, and how successful does he want to be in the future? He replies, “If you ask me on a day-to-day basis when I get home if I am successful, I would say I am. But I don’t really think much about personal success right now. I am happy where I am now. I am single, I can take good care of my mother, and I live a fairly good life so to speak.
“So my immediate goals are for my team and my guests; for the property I run. As I said earlier, I want to make Oriental Residence more successful; maybe bring the property to the Top 5 in TripAdvisor circles, and in particular in the short-term, I want our wedding venues to reap more success as they deserve.
“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey. I’m just happy and grateful to be enjoying that journey.”